I talk a lot about looking for the glimmers of hope in life.
But the truth is - sometimes it’s exhausting to look for the glimmers.
It’s hard to spot the glimmers when they are hidden behind the scary and dark parts of life.
It’s time consuming to search for the glimmers when it would be easier to just give up and maybe look for them tomorrow.
It’s a big investment of energy to look for the glimmers when there is a possibility that we might not find any.
I get it.
But let me tell you a little story about a bear.
Recently I was fortunate enough to take an Alaskan cruise with my family and although I looked forward to every part of the vacation, the part I was most looking forward to was our full day sail through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
There would be glaciers.
There would be seals.
There would be sea otters.
There might even be bears.
A park ranger joined our ship early that morning and confirmed that while there was lots of wildlife to see, we needed to “put in the work to find them.”
Instantly I thought of those silly glimmers of hope I’m always writing about on this page.
The ranger went on to give us some tips for spotting wildlife.
“You need to be patient.”
“You need to look around you.”
“You need to remember they will probably be smaller than you would expect because of how far away they may be.”
“But if you are committed, your efforts will pay off.”
And if that isn’t a metaphor for finding the glimmers of hope in life, I don’t know what is.
So, I went to work.
I donned my cozy leggings and a sweatshirt, wrapped myself in a comfy blanket, put on my winter hat, and fastened the binoculars around my neck.
Then I stood on my balcony and followed her tips.
I was patient.
I looked around me.
I was committed.
But I didn’t find any bears.
Seals danced and played just off the edge of our ship to the delighted squeals of me and all the other passengers perched on their own balconies.
And when dozens of sea otters floated by us, holding hands with each other, carrying their babies on their bellies, and splashing through the water, we all cheered and pointed and took lots of videos.
But still no bears.
I decided to take a break and go for a walk in search of refreshments and to see the glaciers from the bow of the ship - a spot open to passengers only on Glacier Bay day.
I enjoyed my peach Bellini with a float of Patron and marveled as I soaked in the natural beauty surrounding me.
Then I returned to my balcony and went to work again.
And there it was.
A little brown speck on the water’s edge.
I zoomed in closer with my binoculars and started to convince myself that it was just a rock.
Then the rock moved.
And a bear’s face came into focus.
“A bear!!!” I shouted.
“Where where?!” my husband and sons asked as they started to try to find it with their binoculars.
“You found a bear?” passengers from nearby balconies shouted over.
News of the bear spread quickly as people started sharing with each other. “Look! Some lady over there found a bear!”
Our whole port side of the ship spent those next few moments watching that silly bear just sitting on the edge of the water.
A passenger a few balconies down shouted up to me “thank you!!!”
I shouted back “thank YOU!” because I’m weird and awkward sometimes.
But the truth is, I was so thankful that my efforts had paid off and that I was able to share it with others.
After we headed out of Glacier Bay, we headed up to the pool deck and later to dinner. That bear was the topic of conversation everywhere we went.
“Did you see the bear today?”
“Some lady found a bear. Did you see it?”
And that’s the thing about the glimmers of hope.
When we find them not only do they brighten our own day but if we share them with others the lasting ripples of their impact go so much further.
So if you are in need of some glimmers of hope today, maybe right now is a good time to be patient, look around you, and be committed to being some lady that finds a bear.
And then when you find the glimmers - share them with others.
Because all of us are here - scanning the horizon for some sign of a glimmer of hope to brighten our day.
I know you already have a lot on your plate.
Your mind probably starts racing as soon as your eyes open each morning.
Your "To Do" list is probably growing more quickly than you can cross things off of it.
But, I have one more thing to add to your responsibilities right now - YOU.
It is your obligation to love and respect yourself. No one else is responsible for this - no one else can make up for it.
So, try to ask yourself one question before you hop (or, if you are like me, drag yourself) out of bed each morning.
Maybe ask it as you are stopped at a red light while driving.
Maybe ask it before you fall asleep each night:
"What am I doing to love and respect myself?"
Do more of whatever it is that makes you feel like you are caring for yourself in a good and healthy way.
Add it to your To Do list.
Make it and yourself a priority.
No one else can do that for you.
You need this.
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.